I am always happy to see a band get recognition where recognition is
due. Especially if that band is as exceptionally talented as Low. In my
opinion, Low is the most consistent indie band out there. They somehow
manage to be unbelievable prolific without ever compromising the quality
of their music.
I remember a few years ago people were raving about Bedhead and Ida, those
other champions of the sleepy and moody Slo-Core movement. Somehow Low
was still somewhat unheard of, which amazed me because they in my opinion
were simply writing better music.
Times have changed and Low is slowly becoming one of the most popular
bands on the indie circuit. And all I have to say is its about time.
I keep reading that this band (whose last 2 records were produced by Steve
Albini) have become more accessible. I tend to agree if "accessible"
implies that the tone of the music is less dark and the production has
become more slick. The last couple of records have even had some string
Where I differ though from most critics is I don't necessarily believe
the adjective accessible connotes a change for the better. I like the
less dark feel of the last 2 records as the band explores more poppy and
less minimal melodies, but I really miss the moodiness found on older
records such as The Curtain Hits the Cast. Their earlier work just
seems a little more raw, a little more edgy.
The gorgeous interplay between Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker on vocals
mixed with their uncanny ability to write a good song will last as long
as their marriage does (hopefully forever) but I kind of miss the lower-fi
days when a Low album was, well, kinda creepy.
That said, I was delighted to stumble upon their new EP In the Fishtank
(yes they have a new and unrelated single out now as well). This is
the latest installment of the Fishtank series on Konkurrent, where
the Dutch label invites similar-minded bands into the studio to record
30 minute collaborative EP's
If you heard the collaboration between Tortoise and the Ex, you may be
a little concerned since their release was less than satisfying, but I
think most will be pretty pleased with the results of this session.
The haunting banjo and violin of The Dirty Three blend very nicely with
the super-slow pacing of Low. Alan and Mimi obviously felt the energy
and are even more inspired than usual on vocals.
I like this disk. It is more moody and ethereal than Low's last two full-lengths
and this is a plus in my mind. I also can't imagine a better matching.
Dirty Three and Low really go together as well as Camels and coffee. (or
ketchup and friesI quit smoking). Most of all, it is good to see
Low in a minimal production environment again.
This disk was recorded in 1999 and oddly has just become available now.
It has 5 original tunes and a surprising cover of Neil Young's "Down
By the River." Overall, a very welcome addition to Low's canon of
work and I look forward to (though none are planned) more recordings with
Dirty Three in the future.
- Robert Lanham
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| June 2001 | Issue 15